Stand-up comic Parrot and his furry Funny Farm friends plus Hamlet at the Brunton, Musselburgh.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 45 CABARET 46 DANCE 47
Farming out Parrot
Mark Fisher talks to Parrot about free-form wise-cracks and one-man witticisms.
‘Part of the requirement of being a stand-up comedian is that you are insecure, arrogant and selfish,’ says Parrot, laying his cards on the table. This might be fine if he were content to stay on his own behind the mic stand, but along with Funny Farm regular, Fred McAulay, Greenock’s favourite comic is busy developing his skills as one halfof a double act and as a caring, sharing, ever-so responsrve improvrser.
‘It’s a different set of rules for improv,’ he explains, ‘and if you don’t accept those rules before you go on stage, you’re going to look bad. The bottom line is that I know Fred is going to be there for me if I’ve got any problems and he knows that I’m going to be there for him. If I’ve got an idea, because Fred is a sharp stand-up, he can run with that idea and he can gauge when he needs help and ifI come up with something he will let me in. For me it’s just common sense, it’s having the strength to put your ego behind your talent.’
While continuing his one-man act, making regular appearances in London and occasional ones here, Parrot is also writing new material
e- it it
Parrot: frightened and intimidate
with prolific Funny Farm colleague, David Cosgrove. He’s planning a revival of the Bad and Crazy double act, this time substituting Fred McAulay for the equally busy Bruce Morton. ‘When me and Dave work as writers, or me and Fred work as actors,‘ says Parrot, ‘the fact that you do your own thing independently does make
it better. It’s like any form ofexercise. If you play
. _. .' _ v3, ‘ -. ~‘ ,. .. ‘i I. g. . V, 1.‘ “.2;
in three football teams, you‘re going to be good in all ofthem, because you‘re playing three times a week.’
The consequence of this amount ofwork is that to survive, the comedian has to spend much time commuting in order to milk the lucrative London market. For as long as this doesn’t tear him from his beloved Greenock, he has no qualms about playing the capital. ‘1 don‘t want to be a Scottish comic,‘ he explains, ‘I want to be a comic who happens to be Scottish. [don‘t see that my career would be as powerful without London. This is
' bad, but there are some people in television who
don’t go anywhere other than the Comedy Store. I see it as part of my work to make sure people see me. You may be the funniest comedian in the
world, but who cares if you‘re only performing in
Like his old colleague Bruce Morton. Parrot is adamant that it is almost a duty for comedians to
' continue to stretch themselves. He has little time
for the London comics who ply the same twenty-minute set for several years. believing
E that for his own sanity as much as the respect of
i the audience, it is important always to be
: developing. ‘Stay frightened, stay intimidated.‘
he says, ‘and that gives you that edge. Ifyou walk on completely confident. I don‘t think you
understand what you‘re doing. I make it hard because I think it should be hard. People do respect you, because they know you’ve tried. as opposed to having found a safe niche. You should take your work seriously. but don't take yourself seriously. You can do the best gig of your life. you can blow the roofoff, people can be begging you to stop because you‘re so funny and you can go outside and get run over and nobody cares!‘ Parrot and Fred MCA ulay play several gigs
. together and individually over the next couple of ; weeks. See Cabaret listing for details.
For a theatre severely limited in its funding, Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre is determined to prove ltseli as
‘People are looking for Hamlet and St Joan to be put together,’ says Nowoslelski, ‘because they’re the two obvious classics. The same sort ol atmosphere is important, the way we’re going to start Hamlet is not dissimilar to how we started St Joan. But I’m very keen that the audience walks into an atmosphere which we
very economic production, not static, but almost tableaux. The dreadtul thing that Scots are so bad at, probably because ol training, is everyone wants to be Robert De Niro, everyone plays with their collars! We want to hearthe words and see the pictures.’
Conscious oi the topicality of Hamlet’s themes of revenge and treachery, particularly after events in
a major small-scale rep. Hot lorthem the timid two-handers which sadly characterise so much cash-starved drama. Under Charles Nowosielski’s direction, the current season ambitioust encompasses everything from popular comedies to theatre oi the absurd. And alter its largely successful opening production of Shaw’s St Joan in September, the company is about to tackle its second classic play in
build and conjure, as opposed to one that is present from the start which was the case in St Joan.’
Like the Shaw production, Hamlet is being designed by Nick Sargent whose set tor The Bench at Edinburgh’s Traverse beiore Christmas was a similartreat. He’s keeping it simple to lit in with a production that aims to capture the essence ol the play without imposing extraneous ideas. ‘Economy
Director Charles Howosielski
is the word,‘ says Howosielskl, all too aware at his linanclal constraints, but using them to his advantage. ‘lt’s economy to let the audience see the characters, rather than to lnlluence them by creating a cumbersome change-over scene. We're looking tor a
the Gulf, Howosielski is playing on our eternal interest in human unpredictablity. ‘One of the reasons for its great popularity over the years,’ he says, ‘is how easily we can relate to these characters and emotions. It's the mystery that continues to surround Hamlet, because the characters are like real characters.’ (Mark Fisher) Hamlet is at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Thurs 17 Jan—Sat 2 Feb.
“The List ll - 24January 1991